I suspect you have heard and read the story of a little girl who I believe is the Pablo Picasso of her family. This little girl was watching her mom preparing a dish of fish. What fascinated her was when her mom cut the tail of the fish. She asked her mom why she did it that way. Her mom answered that she has always done it that way because her mom did it that way. The little girl and her mother asked the grandmother who said that she never asked but also did it because her mother did the same. The little girl and her mom called the great grandmother who said that her mother cut the tail because the pan was too small to fit the entire fish.
This is a simple story about assumptions and following “traditions”. There are many “fishtail” examples in our lives. They are passed from generation to generation and some work for us and some do not. In one workshop, one delegate stated that he became a teacher because he comes from a family of teachers and that is what his family expects. On quizzing further, he said he wanted to be a sound engineer but “what can I do, everyone in my family is a teacher”.
Oftentimes, we do things without understanding the rationale behind them. We are caught in the “monkey see, monkey do mentality”. We have become what the rules emanating from family tradition, schools and churches dictate to us. The expectations imposed on us by social media have shaped our interaction with the world.
In the process, we have lost interaction with our inner self. We have lost touch with our hearts and souls. We carry on unhappy, frustrated and conflicted. This is a sad place to be at because we know it is not who we are and what we want to do. We are afraid to be different for fear of being excluded by our families and friends.
Arnold Schwarzenegger said it well that “it is impossible to be a maverick or a true original if you’re too well behaved and don’t want to break the rules. You have to think outside the box. That’s what I believe. After all, what is the point of being on this earth if all you want to do is be liked by everyone and avoid trouble”.
To break the rules and go after your dreams you need to consider the following:
- Stop conforming: Stop trying to fit in, conforming leads to compliance and it is here that your behaviour is in conflict with your inner self.
- Know what you want and why: this will not happen until you ask yourself serious questions. Those who conform never take a moment to define their why and their what or they succumb to fear because their Why is not big enough.
- Define your strengths and values: you will increase your self-awareness and position your distinctiveness from others.
- Have a conviction: stand for what you believe in especially if it contributes to the greater good. Stand for what is right and you will never go wrong.
Challenge your fears, dance with the fear of being rejected, of being called names and of being isolated. It takes courage and guts to break the rules and go after your dreams.
Tex Hlalele is a Personal Mastery, Leadership & Organizational Effectiveness Specialist. Book Tex to help you and your team gain insights and possibilities for individual learning and organizational advancement on +2764 656 6174 or visit http://www.dreamsmadepossible.co.za/contact.html. He is the author of the book, Face the person in the mirror.